Centre tells TN to revoke order allowing 100 per cent occupancy in theatres

Allowing the seating capacity of cinema/theatres/ multiplexes to increase from 50 per cent to 100 per cent is a dilution of COVID guidelines, the Union government said

Cinema owners say that with prices now fixed, it is not profitable for them to run their business, especially after suffering huge losses during the lockdown | File photo

The Union government on Wednesday (January 6) asked the Tamil Nadu government to reverse its order allowing 100 per cent occupancy in cinemas against the current 50 per cent, arguing that the decision is against the guidelines issued by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA).

“The government of Tamil Nadu’s order of permitting increase in the seating capacity of cinema/theatres/multiplexes from existing 50% to 100% is a dilution of MHA order. States and UTs shall not dilute guidelines issued under the DM (disaster management) Act in any manner,” ANI quoted the Union ministry of home affairs as saying.

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The Tamil Nadu government has been asked to immediately issue necessary orders to bring its guidelines in line with those of the MHA.

In compliance with social distancing norms, cinemas were running with 50 per cent capacity since November 10. This was in accordance with the Union government’s directives, but this affected the footfall in theatres and multiplexes in a big way.

On January 4, Tamil Nadu’s revenue and disaster management department passed an order allowing increase in the seating capacity in cinemas, theatres and multiplexes to 100 per cent while following COVID-19 standard operating procedures. The decision came after a representation from the Theatre Owners Association.

The Tamil film industry has been badly hit by the COVID pandemic as several films had to be launched on the OTT platforms.

On its part, the state government argued that the COVID-19 case load is decreasing every day, hence the seating capacity of cinemas, theatres and multiplexes can be increased.

Despite the state government allowing 100 per cent occupancy, audiences’ response has been mixed. Also, the mutated strain of coronavirus first detected in the UK has caused fear among people.